Keenan Te started posting singing videos on TikTok a year and a half ago and has amassed over 1.6million followers. 2021 has been a hectic year for Keenan, with his last song Dependent being released in April. Dependent currently has over 50 million plays across platforms and flew to number 1 on Indonesia’s Viral 50 Spotify chart, as well as the Top 5 of many other countries across Asia.
We had the pleasure of corresponding with Keenan to learn about his inspiration, who he looks up to, and so much more. Read on to find out his answers!
What first got you into music?
Music has always been a big part of my life ever since I was young. There are videos of me when I was 1 or 2 years old singing and putting on ‘concerts’ for my family hahah. My parents played a big part of the start of my music journey, my dad taught me how to play piano and my mum taught me how to play guitar! It’s always been something I’ve been surrounded by.
Who inspired you to make music?
My parents have always been super supportive of me which I’m really grateful for. I remember watching Australian Idol for the first time when I was 2 and thinking I would love to be on a stage like that or do something like that in future, so singing has always been something I’ve wanted to do.
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
The music I usually write are sad pop songs that are about real situations and feelings that I’ve gone through or experienced. I hate talking about my feelings and I’m really bad at it but for some reason putting them into a song comes naturally to me, so I love being able to do that.
What inspired you to write “Dependent”?
‘Dependent’ actually came to me in the middle of the night and it only took me around 20 minutes to finish writing! I had spent the day thinking about a past situation I had been through, where I couldn’t get over someone but also knew that they weren’t meant to be in my life anymore. I knew that the internal battle of wanting to move on but also not being able to was something that a lot of people would be able to relate to, so I sat down at the piano and kind of just sang whatever came to mind.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind “I’m Done” and “Hello”?
I wrote ‘I’m Done’ right after I had an argument with someone, and it was just what I was feeling at the time. I wanted to write a song that people could vibe to but also scream their lungs out too right after a breakup or something like that.
I have a list of random lyric ideas in my phone, and there was one that said, ‘it’s the last time that I’ll say hello.’ I liked the idea of a breakup song about saying goodbye to someone being called ‘Hello’ hahah. I kinda built the song off that initial line.
How would you describe your experience on TikTok?
I love using TikTok and I am so grateful to have built a community on there! It actually started off as a joke, out of boredom one night right as the pandemic was beginning in 2020. I didn’t really understand how to use it at first but then just thought I’d upload a few singing videos, not expecting for anyone to see them. I remember waking up in the middle of that night because my phone was buzzing like crazy with notifications! I’ve been posting singing videos daily since that moment and it’s mind-blowing to me that over 1.6 million people follow me and want to hear me sing.
What is your creative process like?
My creative process for writing songs always starts off at either the piano or guitar. I usually just sit and hit record on my phone, and then sing whatever melodies or lyrics that come to mind. It’s usually a whole lot of gibberish at the start but once I find a melody I like, I try to build off that and build the song around that. Sometimes it can take me as quickly as 15 minutes to finish writing a song, other times I let myself brainstorm over a few days. I
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
There are so many people I’d love to collaborate with. Definitely Olivia Rodrigo, I think we could write a cool duet together hahaha! I really like Clinton Kane’s songwriting as well, would be super cool to jump in the studio with him.
If you could open a show for any artist, who would it be?
Justin Bieber. I’ve watched a lot of clips of his tour performances and stuff, and it just looks like so much fun!!
What is one message you would give your fans?
If you have a dream or goals that you want to achieve, don’t be afraid to put in the hard work and take risks to reach it!
What is the most useless talent you have?
I can type really fast. I’ve been able to since I was like 9 hahah
What would you be doing right now if it wasn’t for your music career?
If it wasn’t for my music career, I would probably be doing something marketing or business-related. I had started my business degree before any of my TikTok or songs had begun to gain traction, so that would probably be the industry I would be in if it wasn’t for my music career.
Outside of TikTok, where have you performed?
I’ve done some local performances here in Melbourne and was featured on Australian TV a few times too. I actually appeared on The Voice Australia in 2019 as well but that feels like an entirely different world and person hahaha. I’ve grown a lot since then and am really happy with how things are going right now.
How do you think the internet has impacted your career? The music business in general?
The internet and social media helped my career so much! Social media has been the way that new people discover me and my music and has helped me connect with fans all over the world, which I love. The music business as a whole has also changed heaps too since the introduction of social media, Tik Tok especially. There are more opportunities for singers now to get their music out there without having to spend heaps of money on advertisements and stuff like that.
What is your favorite song to perform?
My favorite song right now to perform would be my recent song ‘Dependent’. There’s something that hits different when it comes to performing songs that I’ve written myself, compared to singing other people’s songs. But if I had to choose a song that isn’t mine, definitely ‘Jealous’ by Labrinth.
Which famous musicians do you admire?
I love how Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes turned their social media following into a full-blown music career. There are a lot of artists that have done the same, and it’s something that I admire, as I can relate in some way, but am still working on.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
The best advice that I’ve been given is that everything happens for a reason. I truly believe that both bad and good things help shape who you are as a person and can lead to better opportunities in the future.
If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
I love that the internet is creating so many opportunities for independent singers and musicians, but I would love it to be even more accessible somehow!
Would you agree that it is important to learn, study and understand old music and music history?
Definitely, old music trends and sounds reappear in today’s music so it’s important to have an understanding of what music was like in the past. I also just find it so interesting to see what the music industry was like before I was born and see the culture and also who were the biggest stars at the time!
What’s next for you?
I have a few exciting projects in the works, and also a lot of songs coming out! My next single will be out next month so I’ve been working hard on that. I’ve been working really hard on these next few songs that are coming so I’m really keen for everyone to hear them.
Follow Keenan Te
Photo Credit: Taine Noble